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Evensong Sees School Return to its Beginnings

Thursday, 14 April 2016

In a Centenary and Quincentenary celebratory Choral Evensong that gave thanks to Bolton School’s Founders and Benefactors, the school was returning to the site of its earliest incarnation 500 years ago in the grounds of Bolton Parish Church. 

The evening began rousingly as the large Congregation sang Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer as the clergy, school’s Joint Chamber Choir and guests processed down the aisle into the service. The Revd Canon Matt Thompson, Vicar of Bolton, welcomed the School and told of its beginnings as a Chantry school, closely associated with the church. He spoke of how on 12 July 1516, John Barton signed his will and bequeathed money to a clerk in Holy Orders, Nicholas, to educate young people at the school in Bolton. This is the earliest mention of Bolton School and of education in the town; the initial school was sited by the Parish Church and for many years occupied the building that is now the church hall. The Revd reminded the gathering that for three centuries the vast majority of Headmasters of the school were in Holy Orders. He also recalled how the name Lever was integral to the School’s history, Robert Lever endowing Bolton Grammar School for Boys in 1644 and William Hesketh Lever formally establishing Bolton School Girls’ Division and Boys’ Division in 1915. Junior Girls from Hesketh House brought proceedings into the here and now with a beautiful rendition of Stars and their choir was then joined by Junior Boys’ choir and soloists for an enchanting interpretation of The Lord is My Shepherd.  

Headmistress of the Girls’ Division Miss Hincks read from Deuteronomy and Mr Britton, Head of the Boys’ Division, read the second lesson, Ephesians 2.11-end.  The Friends of Bolton School Choir offered moving renditions of Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and they were then joined by the Bolton School Choir to sing The Lord’s Prayer. Ubi Caritas was sung flawlessly by the Bolton School Chamber Choir and the Junior Boys’ Choir delivered a fine rendering of Rutter’s For the Beauty of the Earth. 

The Reverend’s Sermon was followed by Prayers of Intercession from Head Boy Chris Pantelides and Deputy Head Girl Alexandra Hopkinson.  The evening closed with two stirring hymns from the Congregation, All My Hope on God is Founded and Jerusalem. The School Jazz Band performed for guests in the Parish Hall as they enjoyed refreshments after the service.

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The two Junior School Choirs joined together for a bewitching version of The Lord is My Shepherd

The two Junior School Choirs joined together for a bewitching version of The Lord is My Shepherd

The Friends of Bolton School Choir sang wonderful versions of the difficult pieces, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis

The Friends of Bolton School Choir sang wonderful versions of the difficult pieces, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis

The large Congregation enjoyed a wonderful Evensong at Bolton Parish Church

The large Congregation enjoyed a wonderful Evensong at Bolton Parish Church